Sharing my story on CNN

It has been a great opportunity to share my story, Evan’s story, on CNN for Mental Health Awareness month. You can read it here. The response has been great – 31,000 shares on facebook and counting.

I’m amazed by the 1,274 comments that reflect our understanding as a society of suicide and mental illness. There are people that get it and people that don’t.

I’ve read comments by people who are living with mental illness and people who have survived suicide attempts to thrive in their lives today. These people have shared compassion with each other and it’s an amazing thing to witness. I’ve read comments by my fellow survivors of suicide loss. The understanding we share is one that comforts me in my feelings of being misunderstood and alone.

I also received concerned feedback about the headline of my story. Every survivor carries a shattered heart and with it guilt, anger and shame. While my soul may not ever be at peace with my brother’s suicide, my intention was not to showcase my guilt but to educate. Suicide is preventable. My misconceptions made me an accomplice, but you have the chance to be a better caregiver. All of us have the opportunity to hold those who are suffering with compassion, not shun them with stigma or hurt them with our half-attempts at helping.

I also know this to be true. Sometimes, all the love and attentiveness in the world cannot save someone we love from dying. You can take someone to counseling, but they can lie. You can treat someone for cancer, but their body can’t survive it. Accidents happen that you could never have controlled.

Four years out from by brother’s suicide, I have found some consolation in knowing that my neglect did not led him to suicide. I can clearly see that Evan suffered an illness that took him from this world against his will. He did not sin, he was not weak, nor did he make a choice.


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    • Anonymous
    • May 15, 2014
    • Reply

    thank you

    • robin johnson
    • May 15, 2014
    • Reply


    • Grateful mom
    • June 17, 2014
    • Reply

    Erin, Your article on CNN may have saved my son’s life. Your headline caught my attention and I opened it. I was stunned as I read about Evan, and felt as if I was reading about my own son. From the time he was two, he was the life of the party. The funny guy with a soul that lights up a room when he walks in. Built slim, he’s a runner. Creative, smart and gregarious, he’s friends with kids in many groups. And then one day his light started going out and I didn’t know why. I wanted to believe it would just come back on. He didn’t have anything to be sad about, not really, but what I realize now is depression isn’t always triggered by an event. Sometimes, it just slides into a person’s life and steals their joy and will to live. Even without a traceable reason, depression can be deadly. Never judge whether a person should be depressed or not. Regardless of why it happens, it is serious. I didn’t know this before I read your article. I told myself he was just feeling down and it would pass. At 14, it was probably just hormones. Your article led me to explore your blog and dig even deeper. I learned about warning signs and realized my son had almost all of them. As I write this, I’m sitting outside an intensive program at our area’s Children’s Hospital. We got our son the help he needed…and he needed it so much more than we realized. He was battling thoughts of suicide on a daily basis and he was exhausted. I’m in tears as I write this. He is graduating the program today. He’s armed with coping skills and a network of support including ongoing care. He wants to feel better and he’s on his way. He’s already stronger, and more able to express his feelings. He has hope, and he knows he’s not alone. His dad and I have learned tools we can use to help him, too. Thank you for bringing awareness to our family and to thousands of others you’ll never know you touched. Thank you for sharing your painful story that it may shine light into the darkness for others. You opened our eyes and our hearts with yours words and I am forever grateful.

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